WASHINGTON (Jul. 4)
The White House and the State Department both contended Friday that National Security Adviser Zbigniew Brzezinski neither initiated nor caused the initiation of the State Department’s statement of June 27 warning Israel its surrender of the West Bank is essential to a peace settlement.
However, neither the White House nor the State Department would identify the originator of the statement which caused a furore among Israeli supporters and brought a barrage of criticism against the Carter Administration by members of the Jewish community and the Congress.
Although President Carter last Thursday put a lid on further discussion by his Administration of the Middle East situation until Premier Menachem Begin visits him here July 19-20, both Presidential Press Secretary Jody Powell and Department spokesman John Trattner took issue with a telecast that said “indirectly, the President seemed to be admitting” the State Department’s policy statement “was a blunder”.
CONSULTATIONS PRECEDED STATEMENT
CBS diplomatic correspondent Marvin Kalb added that the statement was “initiated” by Brzezinski and that it was “Brzezinski who added the section most criticial of Israel’s leaders, namely, the warning that the subject of Israel’s withdrawal from the West Bank cannot be excluded from the negotiations”.
Trattner said Friday that the statement in its “final form was the product of consultations by the Secretary of State with other officials and the National Security Council”. He said the original statement was drafted in the Department. Kalb’s report, he said, contained “a misunderstanding”. But he did not give details. Among unanswered questions was who called Undersecretary of State Philip Habib to start the entire process of drafting a statement.
While official responses were made about the telecast, the Carter Administration continued to refuse to comment on statements and actions in the Arab world impinging directly on U.S. policy for a Middle East settlement.